October 02, 2009 12:00AM
Office of Admission Director Melinda Roelfs had been working at Pittsburg State University for several years when she experienced the loss of a coworker - a situation that on one hand, deeply saddened her; but on the other, strengthened her resolve to make sure others could benefit from Diane Caruso's memory.
"She was close to many of our student ambassadors, and we witnessed how much she cared about them," said Roelfs, reflecting on the life of the former administrative assistant, who died in 2001.
Although Roelfs and many of her coworkers already had long histories of giving, they banded together three years ago to develop an annual golf tournament that raises money for the Diane Caruso Scholarship. Each year, the money provides a scholarship to an outstanding student ambassador.
"I see almost daily the impact scholarship dollars make in the decisions of students," Roelfs said. "I think it's great we can congratulate them on a job well done in high school, but it's even more important to be able to tell them we believe in their future."
Roelfs is one of three PSU employees leading this fall's Faculty Staff Campaign, an annual effort by the Office of University Development to encourage faculty and staff members to give back to the university. Since its inception in 1980, the campaign has brought in well over $3 million to bolster scholarships and programs. Participation is growing: during Fiscal Year 2009, the percentage of employees contributing to the Faculty Staff Campaign increased by 7 percent to 45 percent, with current and retired faculty and staff contributing more than $250,000 to the PSU Foundation. This year organizers are hoping to raise participation to 50 percent.
Barb Barto, scheduling coordinator for the Overman Student Center, and Forrest Coltharp, retired mathematics professor, are the other co-chairs for this year's campaign, which runs throughout the month of October. In addition to sending out letters, the co-chairs will be delivering candy bars and small gifts to offices across campus, reminding employees of the importance of giving.
Surrounded by students on a daily basis, Barto said it's easy to see how important giving is.
"There are a lot of students who fall through the cracks because they don't qualify for a scholarship for one reason or another. I wish there were more people who could provide scholarships for them," she said. "Employees need to look at the students working around them and think about what they can do to help. Put yourself in their shoes."
For Coltharp, serving as a Phonathon caller and engaging in interesting conversations with alumni during his teaching days has only been part of his effort to give. His immediate family has accrued eight degrees (with even more in progress), making giving back "even more important now."
"We want our faculty and staff to think about their contribution to the university and remember that every gift makes a difference," said Holly Kent, director of annual giving at PSU. "This campaign benefits the lives of students. They are the reason we are all here."
For more information on how to give to PSU, contact University Development at 620-235-4768.